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Career > Money

This Viral Budgeting Hack Is Actually Kind Of Old School

If you’re anything like me, spending too much money is a problem. I feel like I am constantly spending the majority of my paycheck without saving or budgeting any of it. But I mean, what else is my part time job for besides some shopping money? In all seriousness, though, as I’m getting older and starting to have bigger and more important things to spend my money on, I’ve started to realize I’m going to need to start budgeting my money a bit — just to make sure I can still go on the occasional shopping spree, but also have savings for travel and other larger expenses down the road. 

As I’ve noticed this, I’ve started to research some easy budgeting methods for my tiny part-time job paycheck. And one of the first things that popped up is a method called “cash stuffing.” 

But what is cash stuffing? The idea behind this method is to label envelopes with various categories, such as groceries, subscriptions, or shopping, and to stuff a specific amount of cash into each envelope. That amount serves as your budget for that category for the month, or for every paycheck cycle, depending on how you set it up. 

This method immediately caught my eye because of how simple it seemed. I mean, just stuffing some money into an envelope? So easy! 

It seems like the point of this is to limit impulse spending (a big issue for me personally). In theory it makes you more aware of when you have reached your spending limit in a specific category, because once you’ve exceeded your limit in a category, the money in that category is literally just gone. 

When I learned about this method I thought, It would be kind of cool to see all my money in cash like that. I mean, who doesn’t love having a big stack of money? I think it would also be cool to see physical proof of my work in front of me, rather than just a number in my bank account. 

But as I thought about this more, I started to notice some major problems. First, I am always saying to myself, “If I pay in cash, it’s free.” If I buy something in cash, it feels like it’s not really coming out of my bank account, and therefore, it’s free. (I used this mindset yesterday when I bought my sorority formal dress from Aritzia whoops!) 

So, I feel like if I was converting my entire paycheck into all cash, I would be spending so much more of it than I do on my card, because it would all be free in my mind. 

Overall, this could be a super helpful method for those who don’t treat cash like Monopoly money, and the envelopes would definitely be fun to make and decorate. But I think, for me, having that much easy access to cash would really just increase my spending, rather than decrease it. So I guess I’m still on the hunt for my own easy budgeting technique!

Maia Hull

UCLA '26

Maia is a second year microbiology and immunology major and mathematics minor from San Diego, CA. She loves to read and write, snowboard, go swimming, and hang out with friends, as well as the occasional shopping spree.